Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Vineman 140.6 Full Iron Triathlon

Race: Vineman 140.6 Full Iron Triathlon
Date: 27 July 2013
Location: Windsor, CA
Distance: 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run
Time: 14:00:25
     Swim: 1:22:34; Bike: 7:53:26; Run: 4:22:45
Female: 82/172
30-34F Age Group: 14/35
Full Iron Tri # 1 and Marathon # 16
Garmin Links: 

I'm an IRONMAN!!

Three years ago when I entered my first sprint triathlon, all I hoped for was to just not fall off my bike, and to this day I still have that same thought every time I reach the bike portion of the race.  I have been a runner and swimmer for years, but only started riding a bike a few years ago while nursing a running injury.  When I told people I registered for an iron distance triathlon, they thought I was crazy, but to me I can't understand why anyone wouldn't want to do an Ironman.  I've been watching the recaps of Kona since I was a child, dreaming of one day finishing 140.6 miles.  I signed up for Vineman in Windsor, CA for the challenge and the excitement of doing something new. So, maybe that does make me a bit crazy.  I'm still amazed that I swam, biked and ran 140.6 miles and survived.  Despite one point during the race when I really wanted to leave my bike at the aid station and run back, amazingly in the end I loved it.

Vineman was the biggest race I've entered and for the first time, I was genuinely nervous.  I mapped out a plan that included swimming three days a week (between 2300-4500 yards per session), biking three days a week (including a long ride of 70-90 miles on the weekend) and running six days a week (~45 miles a week).  I also included strength training two days a week.  At my peak, I trained 18 hours a week.     

After months of training, the big day finally arrived.  It was a cool 53 F when I walked to the start and the water temperature was a perfect 71 F.  I racked my bike and headed to the start.  When the gun went off, I quickly settled in to a comfortable pace.  The group spread out and I was able to find space to swim without getting kicked too many times.  The course was two loops out and back in a dammed portion of the Russian River.  The water was shallow enough to stand at a few places.  As I made the first turn, I began to relax and enjoy the swim.  I finished in 1:22:45, about 20 minutes faster than I anticipated and felt great.  I changed into my bike shorts (I wasn't about to ride 112 miles in tri shorts), ate a cliff bar and grabbed my bike.  I left the transition area in 9:52, a bit slow, but I was racing to finish, not win.  

The swim went very well, but now I was about start my weakest leg of the race, the bike.  I was nervous about making the cut off times.  The first 10 miles were mostly downhill, and as expected, other bikers flew past me.  It was overcast and in the mid 50's, so I was a bit cold.  As the miles passed, the course became hillier and the roads were in bad shape.  Then, after about an hour and a half, my left shoulder began to hurt.  I still had six and a half hours left, so I tried to ignore it and enjoy the beautiful scenery.  I also kept track of how far ahead of the cutoff I was; turns out, I was far enough ahead that I could relax.  By the time I reached Chalk Hill Road, I was dreading the hills.  I must have been going about 5 mph near the top, and was so thankful when I could finally coast down the backside into town.  I finished the first loop!  I decided it was time to eat a Powerbar for "lunch," which eventually upset my stomach and my shoulder was starting to hurt even worse.  This was the lowest point of the entire race for me.  I downed two Advil and pushed forward.  The next loop seemed to drag on, plus the traffic picked up, so I had to manage the cars as well.  I decided to stop at the aid station at mile 75.  I was ready for the ride to be over, but stopping gave me a second wind.  From this point on, I blocked out everything and just rode.  I made another stop at mile 95, just before Chalk Hill Road to refuel.  The second time up Chalk Hill was worse than the first, but I made it!  I was only 12 miles from the finish!!  I kept reminding myself of my reward for riding 112 miles was running a marathon!  Okay, perhaps I am very crazy! I finished the bike course in 7:53:23; a bit slower than I hoped, but far ahead of the cut-off so I was happy.

After making my way through the second transition (11:48) it was finally time to start running.  I had seven hours before the course closed and I was feeling good.  The first few miles were by far the hardest.  My lower back was cramping from the ride and my legs were still adjusting to being back on the pavement.  The run course was a 3x out and back loop.  There were a few small rolling hills that I picked as my walking points.  The more I ran, the better I felt.  I was picking up my pace and just enjoying the race.  My first loop was the slowest and by mile 17, I was still feeling good.  At this point I realized I was almost an hour ahead of my expected finish time.  I felt all my previous marathon experiences really helped me run strong.  I saw several runners struggling and was very glad I had a strong running base, so I was able to enjoy the marathon portion.  This was one of the most exciting marathons I have run, having finished it in 4:22:45 and my overall time was 14:00:25.    
My first 140.6 was a great experience and I can't wait to do another one.  I have my eye on a few next fall.

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